The release of the new Netflix miniseries When They See Us has sparked widespread backlash for an ex-New York prosecutor.
Linda Fairstein was involved in the wrongful conviction of the Central Park 5 three decades ago.
She was the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s sex crimes unit when five innocent teenage boys were convicted.
The five boys were accused of brutally attacking and raping 28-year-old investment banker Trisha Meili in 1989. Meili was jogging in Central Park.
Fairstein was instrumental in the incarceration of Raymond Santana, 14, Kevin Richardson, 15, Antron McCray, 15, Yusef Salaam, 15, and Korey Wise, 16,
Fairstein is now facing a viral campaign to boycott the best-selling crime fiction novels she wrote while the five teens were serving their prison sentences.
“Even if it’s 30 years later, she has to pay for her crime,” Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park 5, told TMZ following the Netflix series debut on Friday.
The first episode of the series showed that Fairstein – played by actress Felicity Huffman – rush to judgement that the five teens were guilty of the 1989 Central Park rape.
The five youngsters – four black and one Hispanic – went on to serve between seven to 13 years in prison.
It wasn’t until a confession and DNA evidence from another man in 2002 that exonerated the group.
Fairstein eventually left the DA’s office in 2002 and became a best-selling New York Times crime author and celebrated crime victim’s advocate.
The Netflix series has now sparked renewed interest in the case.
The hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein started trending on Twitter and a Change.org petition is gaining momentum.
Fairstein is also facing calls to be dropped from the board of Safe Horizon, a New York nonprofit helping victims of abuse and crime. She has been part of the organization since 2000.
Fairstein appeared to delete her social media accounts following the renewed backlash.
The director of the Netflix series, Ava DuVernay, revealed over the weekend that she had reached out to Fairstein in the initial stages of the film.
“Linda Fairstein actually tried to negotiate. I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this, but she tried to negotiate conditions for her to speak with me, including approvals over the script and some other things. So you know what my answer was to that, and we didn’t talk,” DuVernay told the Daily Beast.
Fairstein has long defended her investigation into the Central Park 5 case.
Just last year, Fairstein wrote in a New York Law Review op-ed that the confessions carried out by her team were not coerced.
The men were released and exonerated after a decade in prison when Matias Reyes, a serial rapist serving life in prison for a murder, confessed in 2002. He carried out the crime alone and DNA linked him to the scene.
The men sued the city in 2003 and eventually reached a $41 million settlement in 2014.